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Gay Abu Dhabi: our travel guide with safety tips, bars, clubs & hotels
Abu Dhabi is a city where bigger is always better. Abu Dhabi is sleek rooftop terraces, vast shopping complexes, a world-class skyline, lavish infinity pools, scorching beach clubs and, well, just an excessive amount of wealth and gold. Many would argue this grand experiment has been a supreme success, but for the LGBT community, this leap into modernity is very much a facade. As Islamic Sharia Law is applied to all sexual relations outside of a heterosexual marriage are considered a crime. The maximum penalty for a person convicted of homosexuality ten years in jail, followed by deportation, if you are a foreigner. Floggings, beatings, torture, death, fines can all be applied in other parts of the Emirates. We know all that art, fashion, design, glitz luxury, and wild nightlife…with no gays? And all of those cute flight attendants, form the backbone of the local gay scene which can be quite fun, if very discreet — and only known through social media or word of mouth! Yes, you are going to need to either know someone or make some friends through gay hookup apps.
Initially, Abu Dhabi began as a magnet for the oil industry, but over the last decade, it grew massively in popularity as a tourist destination. Despite this, many LGBTQ expats who are mainly cabin crew for Etihad live here without any problems and have even created their own underground gay scene. We visited Abu Dhabi during our travels in the UAE and give our take on whether we think Abu Dhabi is safe for gay travellers based on our first-hand experience. To be clear, we are not advocating Abu Dhabi as a gay haven, simply an honest account of what it was like for us.